A summary of Dr. Locke's presentation:
Flashback... historical moments.
"Sometimes you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead." - Yvonne Woon
Who do you work for and how can you, as a multicultural professional become fulfilled in that environment?
This is a question that we must ask ourselves as we embark in our professional endeavors at our different workplace. Dr. Don Locke, distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University, and retired Director of Diversity and Multiculturalism at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, gave an excellent and insightful presentation last night at Part I of the #workforceDiversity Series. He taught that diversity is not just about culture or race, but rather it is truly about the fact that people think differently.
Diversity of training, thinking, and experience really brings the best minds together. Simply put, diversity means difference.
We often hear others proclaim how "diverse" Asheville is. Dr. Locke elaborated on his disagreement of that statement. Others in the room nodded their heads. According to Dr. Locke, diversity is frequently viewed in a limited fashion, primarily addressing issues of race, ethnic or gender differences, and linked to the laws providing protected status to certain groups. According to this definition, diversity is lacking in our community. If we look at a more broad definition of diversity, to encompass most characteristics that individuals possess that affect the way they think and do things, we begin to start looking at diversity at the macro level, in a more broad way of thinking.
In order to truly address the diversity needs of our workplace and in our community, we must focus on one dimension of diversity at a time - somewhat in isolation - so that we may develop measurable goals.
Diversity requires the sharing of power, resources, and opportunities. Inclusion includes both access (getting into an organization), and success (surviving and thriving inside an organization.
"There were never in the world two opinions alike; anymore than two hairs or two grains. The most universal quality is diversity." - Michael de Montaigne, French Essayist
Dr. Locke offered ways to build a diverse workforce/organization. In this discussion, he shared his own experiences during his tenure as a Professor. He also shared a few of his dealings with different organizations as he traveled the world, teaching Diversity classes. He then discussed processes that organizations should take in order to achieve their diversity goals and objectives, and the benefits diversity and inclusion offers each organization - benefits beyond checking the box that the organization has staff that represent people of color.
A great take-away message Dr. Locke offered, was in his reiteration of the fact that the "top down approach" must be utilized in order for diversity and inclusion in an organization to be effective. If the President or CEO makes it a priority, it will happen. It is imperative for each organization to have a diversity committee and submit a plan of action, again with measurable goals, benefits, and a business plan that is less about being a good corporate citizen and more about the bottom line ($$), to reach its desired goals and diversity expectations. The benefits definitely outweigh the bottom line, however from a business aspect, semantics aren't so subtle. It's important to intermingle inclusion efforts in with innovation.